I saw the Mailbox beta launch the other day and felt this urge to get on board. I was excited like in the old days when new apps and services made me nervous like a little kid before christmas. But somewhere deep inside it didn't feel true anymore.
I stopped my "early-adopter career" long ago. I sign up for new things here and there if they really seem to make sense, but after I deleted more than 40 accounts over the last months I felt that I'm really over it.
So how the hell did Mailbox get me excited? I liked the coins, I liked the slick interface and I was once more forced by the pressure to join the hype on Twitter — I am weak.
It took exactly three minutes until the excitment was over. The app opened for the first time, I dropped in my beta coin, I saw the signup screen for Dropbox and then the one for Gmail and iCloud and it was gone. I was aware that Mailbox is run by Dropbox now. What did I even think? I don't know. Maybe some spark of hope that it might be different.
I've never seen the app launch actually. I deleted it before signing up.
I still see people trying to get rid of their beta coins on Twitter. It somehow seems that either the possible market for Mailbox beta users is already saturated or not too many people are really interested. I saw only two or three people talking about the app itself. Of course this is not representative. I don't follow enough people to write a scientific essay here. But it's enough to make a statement about my gut feeling.
I think the era of apps like Mailbox is over — or soon to be over. I'm not talking about Email. I'm talking about the post-privacy era, the startup bubble, the Silicon Valley posse.
When I look around, everything speaks against my statement. All the demons we came up with over the last years have now reached a mass-market. It's very hard to imagine that they will ever go away again.
But when the attitude of an entire industry starts to change, everything is possible and that has begun. It was cool to be a part of the startup hype, like it was cool to have a fixie in your living room. It was cool to believe in a post-privacy era. It doesn't matter if there is no visible change yet. It's important that there are more and more people who don't think it's cool anymore. This will result in new ideas, new concepts and it will inevitabely change the way we think about the web, business, privacy and sustainability. Every movement has a counter-movement. What will reach a mass-market tomorrow is being decided today.